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Before Jo knew it, it was Christmas Day. She looked out of the window at the rain which was coming down in torrents and half-wished she was back in the Tyrol. She hated the wet weather, so typical of the English climate. Sighing, she picked her book up from the bedside table and settled down to read. She was allowed an hour to read and write, now, for which she was grateful. She was soon absorbed in it, not hearing when someone sat down in the chair next to her.

“Merry Christmas, Jo,” Jack said, when she finally glanced up. She smiled happily. She quickly put the book down and held her hand out to him. He took it tightly in his own.

“Merry Christmas, Jack. I wasn’t expecting anyone today.”

“I couldn’t let you spend Christmas Day completely alone. I can only spend an hour with you, though. Your sister has invited me to have lunch with them. I’m on duty tonight, so I’ll be around then.”

“I hope you’re prepared for it. The children are all allowed to join the meal at lunchtime. It won’t be a quiet one, by any means.”

“I’m sure I’ll manage,” he grinned.

“I wish I could be there, too,” Jo continued, wistfully. Jack squeezed her hand at this.

“I know. It won’t be the same without you, but you know you can’t be there this year.” Jo just nodded, tears misting her eyes as she thought about last Christmas. Not wishing for her to brood over what couldn’t be, Jack produced a parcel wrapped in Christmas paper and handed it to her.

“Thank you.” She slowly unwrapped it and found six books.

“It’s nothing exciting, I’m afraid, but I knew you were in need of something else to read.”

“They’re lovely. Thank you for thinking of them.” She admired the dust jackets, before carefully putting them on her bedside cabinet. Jack reluctantly stood up.

“I have to go, or I’ll be late. I’ll see you tonight, when I come on duty.” He quickly clasped her hand once more, before letting go and departing. Jo watched him leave, and then lay toying with the rosary until her own lunch arrived.

She slept all afternoon, only waking when her dinner was brought in. After she had eaten, she lay back down and went to sleep once more, never hearing Jack look in on her when he was doing his rounds.

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